Monsters & Magical Sticks

Monsters & Magical SticksThere's No Such Thing As Hypnosis?

by Steven Heller, Ph.D., and Terry Steele
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Pages:208 pages


If you want to know how hypnosis really works (and, no, it has nothing to do with waving of hands or other similar nonsense), you will want to read this book. If you want to know the "magic" behind Ericksonian techniques and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, you have to read this book. From one of the true masters of hypnotherapy, this is one book that can really change your life!!

Read an Excerpt


When an individual wanders into a new area and is bitten by a dog, that is an unfortunate accident. However, when a sign has been posted that says, "Beware of Dog" and the individual wanders in anyway and is bitten . . . well we could label that something else. As you wander into the new areas of this book be advised that it is my intention to "bite" you. You have now been duly warned.

It has been my experience that most individuals who read books on hypnosis are looking for a cookbook with exact recipes. For those of you who believe that you need a cookbook, I recommend any book in the "Betty Crocker" series. You will not find the exact recipes here. Even with a cookbook, a master chef knows that making changes in the recipes is the difference between an average cook and a great one. A great cook is one that is creative and who adjusts the recipes according to circumstances.

I hope, that as you read this work, you will decide to be a creative cook... Use what you may learn as a guide, but not as an exact road map. Feel free to add, subtract, divide and change the ingredients to suit the "meal" you wish to serve and to fit the company that will be sitting at your "table."

In the course of conducting my training seminars, Clinical Hypnosis: Innovative Techniques (R), I have often been asked what it takes to be an effective hypnotist. My response has been, and is, "You must learn the necessary tools and techniques that help direct individuals to their own inner resources and creativity. Once you have done that, you must then get the hell out of their way. I give that response because I believe that each one of us has within, all the tools and solutions necessary for a more effective life. We sometimes just need some help in knowing where to look. We often spend too much time and energy trying to figure out where other people are. A compass has 360 degrees, and if we do not know where we are, we have 359 chances out of 360 to go where we don't want to be in the first place.

To the above, someone will respond, "If that's what being a good hypnotist is, what good is hypnosis itself?" My reply: "Hypnosis helps get the individual out of their own way!" In most cases of so called dysfunction, the individual has been following their own footsteps in a circle. It is as if they were in a hurry to catch their own ass. When they fail to catch that part of their anatomy, they act as if they are failures. On the other hand, when they succeed, they end up suffering from chronic "Head Up the Assitis."

It is the intention of Terry and myself to help you have the tools necessary to help people remove their heads from that rather dark place. In building a new structure, or in remodeling an old one, you do not want to attempt putting up the roof before you have built the walls. Of course, you don't want to put up the walls until you have completed the foundation; never build the foundation on quicksand. It is our hope that this book will be general blueprint for constructing flexible structure upon a solid foundation.



There's No Such Thing As Hypnosis may appear to be a strange subtitle for a book written by a man who has been in the field of clinical hypnosis for many years. The title is sure to displease those who firmly believe that hypnosis exists, and the book itself will displease those who firmly believe that hypnosis does not exist. I firmly believe that hypnosis is just a state . . . South of Oregon and North of Washington, and it doesn't really exist except in people's minds. Paul Watzlawick, in his excellent book, The Language of Change states, "there's no such thing as piano playing; I have tried it several times and nothing came of it." One major problem in discussing or writing about the process of hypnosis is that, through the years, so many definitions of what hypnosis is or is not have been hooked into the word itself, that people have preconceived notions and ideas. It might be said that they have been hypnotized into believing whatever * is they believe about hypnosis.

It is not the purpose of this book to give an academic definition of hypnosis. There are many fine texts and case books that do an excellent job of giving several different and conflicting definitions of hypnosis. These definitions, people are free to reject or not accept as they see fit. If, however, hypnosis means a special state in which a person is put into some deep mystical state and then loses volition over their being because another person, called a hypnotist, creates such powerful, overwhelming suggestions that the victim or subject is helpless to resist, then there is no such thing as hypnosis. If that "power" existed, I would not be writing this book nor working at my profession. I would simply walk into any large corporation and cause the chief executive officer to give me the business. If, however, we consider hypnosis as a generic term that encompasses all forms of altered consciousness, and do not consider hypnosis as a mystical state, we may then get a more clear picture that feels more comfortable.

To further illustrate the use of the word hypnosis as a generic term that encompasses many states, let us consider a state called sleep. We recognize there is light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, restless sleep, etc. However, al of these are contained under the category called sleep. Experts still argue over just what produces sleep and why people sleep in so many ways, but no one denies the existence of the sleep state. If you will picture a horizontal line and think of one end as conscious awareness and the other as sleep. You then can envision and grasp the many gradients between these two opposite points. You might accept hypnosis as an area between these two poles at which an individual's awareness of his surroundings are diminished, while awareness of internal processes, feelings, thoughts and pictures are increased.

Another simile for hypnosis can be found in electricity. We all know that electricity exists, and yet the experts still argue over what electricity really is. The only generally accepted notion is that electricity is a form of energy. You may consider hypnotic techniques as a group of methods for the production of a different form of energy in the brain, and the hypnotic state a conduit for directing that energy toward the accomplishment of goals.


Included in our definition of hypnosis is any form of communication in which a person or persons, whether a hypnotist, wife, husband, teacher, or? uses words, tonality, expressions or movement that elicit and/or evoke within another person an internal experience, and that experience becomes a reality of its own. For example, if I write or speak the word "rose," you might think of a particular flower, perhaps red in color. I could mean a person named Rose, and someone else might remember someone getting up. If I change the meaning to a beautiful red rose, one person might remember a special occasion, the feelings, sounds, pictures, smells and, in effect, relive the entire experience. Yet another person might make a terrible face because they are allergic to roses.

I can remember an incident during which I was having a conversation with a lovely woman, and another woman came to join us. I suddenly found myself feeling about four years old "seeing" an aunt who, to me, was gargantuan. I felt the fear of being overpowered by her size and "saw" her in a polka dot dress. After a moment, I shook my head and returned to the present to realize that the second woman's perfume reminded me of my aunt's perfume. The smell alone regressed me to that childhood experience. There's no such thing as hypnosis, and you need a deep trance and powerful suggestion to produce regression. Really???

One technique of so called traditional hypnosis is called negative hallucination. This is produced by putting someone in a "hypnotic state" and suggesting, for example, that they will not see or hear some person or object. A so-called "good subject" would come out of trance and not see or hear as suggested. How many times have you called your children for dinner and they have responded by not responding? An individual comes to your office stating, "I can't make a decision; it's just impossible." That, too, is a negative hallucination. That individual decided to seek you out, decided what route to take, and decided to enter into a transaction with you. Or, take the individual who states, "everybody hates me, they always have." Obviously, if s/he has lived to tell their tale, someone, in all probability, cared for and helped him/her but, he has excluded that portion of history from his/her reality. Just because someone makes a face at you, it doesn't mean they're not constipated. Again, there's no such thing as hypnosis or perhaps it is all hypnosis.

Editorial Reviews

I've been practicing hypnosis all my life and didn't know it. And so have you!!

Robert Anton Wilson

If I could only ever read three books on Ericksonian hypnosis I'd choose Training Trances by Overdurf and Silverthorn; My Voice Will Go With You by Erickson and Rosen; and this book, Monsters and Magical Sticks.

If I could only have three books on NLP I'd chose The Structure of Magic 1 and Frogs into Princes, both by Bandler and Grinder; and this book, Monsters and Magical Sticks.

Yes, I really do think it is that good...

Andy Bradbury author of Develop Your NLP Skills and NLP for Business Success

One of the most important books you will read in your lifetime. This book has been on my recommended reading list for over 10 years and it will remain there for another 10.

Zanne Marie Gray

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About the Authors

Steven Heller, Ph.D.

Steven Heller, Ph.D. was widely in demand as a clinician, lecturer and trainer of the Ericksonian method, as well as his own method, Unconscious Restructuring®. Through his seminar program, Clinical Hypnosis: Innovative Techniques® Dr. Heller was one of the first individuals to present what was to become known as "Ericksonian hypnotherapy." He became known as the "trainer of the trainers," and was given the name "The Wizard."

Dr. Heller also trained members of the helping professions, and conducted in-house training programs for hospital staffs, universities, medical, dental and psychological associations. He was a guest on several radio and television programs. Dr. Heller received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from California Western University, where his special area of study was, of course, hypnosis. He was born in Los Angeles in 1939; he died in 1997.